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Canadian Contract Colt 1911

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#1 Cam_s



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Posted 19 February 2007 - 03:37 am

Hello All,

I thought that I would show you guys my new Canadian Contract Colt 1911. Its kind of a hard pistol to find here in Canada, so I was ecstatic when I found it. Not many people know about these pistols so I hope you all find it interesting.

Just after the start of Mobilization in 1914, the (corrupt) Minster of Militia Sam Hughes decided to kit out the entire Canadian Military with Colt 1911's. However due to the neutrality act of the time, the Americans could not sell us military kit. So we had one or two procurement officers buy 5000 Commercial Models for themselves. They were delivered over a period of time and they are not all sequentially numbered. He was only able to really equipe the first two contingents and officers had to buy thier own from the already bought lots. NCO's had thier issued. Anyways, it was found that it would be two expensive, so the government moved to the Webley Mk 6, Colt New Service and the Smith and Wesson .455 1917.

I bought mine on a Canadian Gun enthusiast's website and jumped at the chance to buy it. The dealer selling it thought that it was just another commercial model. The price was high for a commercial model, but low for a Cdn Contract so we both thought we did good. Mine has some initials carved in the side which I hope was the first owners. It shows great holster wear and the bore is great. I absolutly love it and it was a dream to shoot at the range. On a side note, the Serial Number is only 98 numbers off of the one pictured in Clive Law's book on Canadian Military Pistols.

Anyways, here are the pictures.


#2 BottsGreys



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Posted 19 February 2007 - 04:48 am


Handheld artillery. Congrats from below the border--truly a thing of beauty, that's for sure.


#3 TonyE



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Posted 19 February 2007 - 09:27 am

Well done, a very nice piece. I know Clive indicates that the pistols were possibly smuggled into Canada, and I have great respect for his work, but I do not see why this would have been necessary.

The US Neutrality Act did not prohibit private companies in America trading with the belligerents, and Colt were already supplying the British government with pistols and sending machine guns via Canada to the UK.

Also, the first 2,000 pistols were shipped to the Government of Canada, Department of Militia and Defence, c/o J.Wesley Allison, Waddington, New York. If it was a clandestine purchase, surely the Canadian Government would not ne the addressee?

The remaining 3,000 pistols were shipped in three batches direct to H.W.Brown, Quebec, and it appears yours was one of these, part of a batch of 1,000 shipped 7th November 1914. The serial number range was C9800 to C12700.

See Charles W. Clawson, Colt .45 Government Models (Commercial Series).


#4 Cam_s



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Posted 19 February 2007 - 06:22 pm

Hey Guys,

Thanks for the replys.

I really don't know why they had the purchase done the way it was.

The main thing to remember is that the Minister of Militia at the time was corrupt and was to blame for alot of the problems of the CEF during the first half of the war. All you have to say is Ross Rifle and it explains everything.

Also, thanks for the date that mine was sent. i really didn't know that.


#5 Borden Battery

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 10:06 pm

The Canadian Government, in the formation of the first motorized machine gun brigade in the Commonwealth, also contracted with the Colt firearm company for Colt machine guns. These machine guns were later replaced with the Vickers machine gun in 1916. The following is an excerpt from the Brutinel Tapes which I recently transcribed.

Borden Battery

Sir Clifford asked me to prepare for the following day,
2nd of August, 1914, a note concerning machine guns, their fire
power and their employment, also a project I had mentioned to
form a Machine Gun Motorised Unit of 16 Guns, this number being
consistent with the ascertained capacity of the Colt Company to
manufacture 303 machine guns within three or four weeks.
Sir Clifford took these papers to Sir Samuel Hugh[e]s then
Minister of Militia and Defense and he explained to him that
all the funds necessary for the contemplated Unit would be
provided privately.

Sir Samuel Hughes gave at once his enthusiastic agreement
to the formation of the Motorised Unit and granted prior right
for its equipment with the Colt machine gun.

After considering the paper dealing with the machine gun
and its fire power, he had extracts published in the Daily
papers and made up his mind to endow each Infantry Battalion
with 4 machine guns instead of two as provided in the
establishment then in force.

He promptly secured an option on practically the entire
production of the Colt Company.

I contacted a few prominent citizens in Montreal. Mr. J.
W. McConnell, Sir Andrew Holt, Sir Vincent Meredith, Mr. Blak
of the Ogilvies and four other gentlemen joined Sir Clifford
Sifton and myself in the subscription of the funds necessary
for the Motorised Unit comtemplated.

Major Jack Sifton, the son of Sir Clifford, took charge of
the relations with the Militia Department concerning
establishments, recruiting of Officers, N.C.O.'s and men, small
arms equipment, uniforms and of many details accruing to the
formation of this extemporised Unit.

Thanks to him, I could hasten the manufacture of machine
guns, the design and construction of motor trucks, the testing
and making of steel to armour them.

The trucks of the Auto Car Company of Ardmore, Pen., were
selected on account of their rugged strength and their flat
horizontal motors . Mr. Clark and Mr. Odlum of the Auto Car
Company fired their workers and the steel makers with the most
helpful spirit, much to my satisfaction.

Twenty-seven days after being ordered, armoured and
service trucks were ready for delivery in Ardmore. Miss Clark
had the kindness to offer to the Brigade an ambulance and this
fine gift, so appropriated, was gladly accepted and proved of
great value in Salisbury Plains.

At the same time, the Colt machine guns were being made
and tested. When ready they were removed by night from Holyoak
on account of the hostile attitude of some workers of the Colt
factory who were of German origin.

#6 Pat Holscher

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 04:38 am

Nice example, thanks for posting it.

#7 Borden Battery

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 12:55 pm

It is a small portion of a relatively unknown 64 page document that I discovered in the Canadian Archives a few years ago.

Borden Battery

#8 uncle bill

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 03:45 pm

The March issue of Militaria Magazine carries an article on this weapon.

#9 ianw



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Posted 28 February 2007 - 09:24 pm

A lovely weapon. Most comforting to have one to hand with an enemy approaching.

#10 Ringoman



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Posted 20 May 2014 - 03:42 am

Hello.  I am new on this Forum.  I inherited a Colt Model 1911 several years ago and it was not until last week that I noticed it has an inscription on the top of the barrel that reads " G L Greenlay Canadian Light Horse".  I think it is one of the Canadian Contract Colts.  The serial number is "C 4251" which seems to be out of the range of the serial numbers for the Canadian Contract Colts, unless I am not understanding what has been mentioned on this forum.  I think the owner was Gardner Lansonby Greenlay who was with the 14th Light Horse and at the end of WW! held the rank of Lt. Col..  I found an article in the Shaunavan Standard dated November 2012 talking about Greenlay.  He served three years in the Boer War before returning to Canada and joining the NWMP in 1901.  In 1914 he joined the Canadian Mounted Rifles and went overseas with the CEF.  The article says he was served the Military Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace in 1916 for conspicuous gallantry.  Does anyone know how I would find out under what circumstances he was awarded the MC and in what battle.  I am interested in finding out more about  Lt. Col Greenlay.

#11 JMB1943



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Posted 01 June 2014 - 12:48 am

A search of the London Gazette reveals on p. 3746 (Issue 30597)

T./2nd Lt. (A./Capt.) Hugh O'Brien Greer,M.C., R.E.(M.C. gazetted 19th November, 1917.)Lt. Gardner Lazenby Greenlay, M.C., Can.Corps Cav. R.(M.C. gazetted 14th November, 1916.)2nd Lt. James Gray, M.C.…

The issue of 14th Nov. 1916 will give the citation for award of the MC (the where/what/when of the act of gallantry). I have tried look for it, but am having problems with loading the LG at the moment.